Hot Water Shortcut

After installing the PEX manifold system in the basement, it has been wonderful to not have rusty particles in our water, but one frustration had remained.

It took a very long time for the water to heat up when switching on the taps.  Especially bad was the kitchen, because the water had to travel from the water heater, to the new manifold half way across the house, then back PAST the water heater to the kitchen sink.  It took a total of 21 seconds for the water to heat up, and wasted an entire GALLON of water every time we did this - I checked.

Finally realizing how much water we were wasting, perhaps up to 8 gallons every day, I decided to do something about it.

We went to the hardware store for two unvalved 3-port manifolds ($19 each), and a bag of ancillary goodies totaling perhaps $80.  I then spent about 3-4 hours in the basement on Saturday hooking it all up.

First, I had to solder a cap onto one end of the 1 inch copper manifolds and solder a transition and PEX adapter to the other end.  This made the living room smell like burnt flux.  (Yeah, I did this in the living room - bad husband!)

I tee'd into the 3/4 inch lines for hot and cold water under the downstairs bathroom, and installed the manifolds.

Since I couldn't find my garden shears (the best tool to cut PEX tubing), I had to use a razor knife, which takes forever, is wickedly dangerous and hurts your hands.  Worse yet, I had to actually reuse some of the PEX fittings, which required cutting through the copper crimp rings.  If I have to remove these in-situ, I usually use a dremel, but my battery was flat so that was out of the question.  (that's the one thing that bugs me about battery powered tools - they're never ready to use unless I remember to put them on the charger 3 hours in advance)  I ended up cutting out the fittings and using a chisel and hammer to cut through the rings.  This worked very well and was pretty quick, but it shortens the pipe run by about an inch each time you do it - a fully charged Dremel would have been preferred.

With a bit of head-scratching and some time, everything went back together in time for dinner.

Then Sunday morning, Z took a shower and ran out of hot water about 3 minutes in.  Turns out I forgot the most important step in the whole process - plug the water heater back in.  D'oh!